Founder Feature: Karen Lee, Founder & CEO, Glou Beauty

What inspired you to start your company?

Glou Beauty is an AI-powered marketplace that makes the resale of beauty products faster, cheaper, and safer for consumers. Frictionless listing creation and beautiful browsing are at the core of how Glou has completely reimagined re-commerce to ease consumers into making secondhand their first choice.

The climate anxiety I faced while working in retail really pushed me to think about what change in the industry means and where it comes from. 

I had always wanted to work in fashion or retail in some capacity but what I learned is that change is near impossible with the endless bureaucracy in big companies. I don’t have the time or patience to work my way up the ladder to be heard. The most efficient way to affect change is to do it yourself.

Who are your cofounders, and what makes you a great team?

Solo founder! I have two founding team members who are absolutely fab and I can’t imagine building Glou without them. We are super open with our communications and have a very high level trust in each other’s abilities.

How is Glou making a difference?

We are helping beauty consumers reduce, reuse, and recycle as much as possible.

Reduce: We help consumers reduce the amount of new beauty products they buy by making Glou their first stop beauty shop – we have reimagined the traditionally clunky marketplace experience to create a beautiful browsing experience that will make consumers want to shop Glou before buying new.

Reuse: Did you know 87% of beauty products are abandoned before fulfilling their useful life? When something doesn’t work out, we make it easy for beauty lovers to sell their underloved products using our AI-powered, frictionless listing creation process.

Recycle: Most beauty products are made with mixed materials, and have lots of small parts that make them really difficult, if not impossible to recycle. We have a non-profit partner we work with to let our users have a free way to recycle empties and products that can’t be safely rehomed.

What are some of the challenges you have faced?

Not having access to institutional capital has meant that I’ve had to build slower than I’d like to. Like many women founders, I’ve had to self-fund and deplete my own savings to get to an MVP. Luckily, I have the privilege of having a supportive family who lets me live with them while I figure all this out.

What is your biggest win? 

Getting into the AWS Impact Accelerator was life changing. They were the first strangers to bet on me and the funding allowed me to bring on full-time employees. It’s been both terrifying and freeing to hire people.

What do you wish you had known before starting your company?

In a way I’m grateful for my naïveté and just dove into the deep end because if I had known about taxes, or that marketplaces is one of the hardest business models to kick-start… there’s no way I would have done it.

What is your CEO superpower?

Extreme resourcefulness! I am very scrappy and can figure my way out or around almost any situation.

Learn more and connect:

G&W Team

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